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LES Restaurant That Plans to Cater to Latinos Gets Community Board Backing

By Serena Solomon | October 16, 2012 9:04am

EAST VILLAGE — A planned restaurant and bar aimed at the Lower East Side's Hispanic population won community board support Monday night, despite heated opposition.

The yet-to-be named two-story eatery planned for 106 Rivington St. will fill a void for Latino's, the owners told Community Board 3.

But some neighbors, including new anti-nightlife group LES Dwellers, said the area has had enough of nightspots that fill the streets with drunken revelers.

The liquor license subcommittee of CB3 recommended the venue's license be restricted to a close time of midnight Sunday through Wednesday and 2 a.m. Thursday through Saturday. The restaurant also agreed to more than 25 stipulations including a ban on DJ use, dancing and outside club promoters.

"You see now that it is a restaurant," said Enrique Cruz, who is a consultant for the restaurant's two owners Jose Orlando Rodriguez, 39, and Robert Payne, 49.

"It's not a club. It's not a bar. Its not a sports bar."

A floor plan for the new venture, which is scheduled to open in April 2013, showed both basement and ground floor levels with two bar areas as well as an enclosed courtyard that will accommodate a total of 118 seats.

Cruz pointed to statistics on the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene's website that lists only three percent Latino restaurants in an area that has a 25 percent Hispanic population.

"If I look at the public benefits, I think it is understandable," said Cruise in an attempt to prove the proposed establishment's benefit to an area known as "Hell's Square" for its saturation of bars, clubs and restaurants. 

CB3's vote is only a recommendation and final authority for all liquor license is with the Sate Liquor Authority.

Alex Wright, a producer who lives locally, was one of dozens of 106 Rivington St. supporters who arrived at the meeting holding signs that read, "Yes, We do live here."

"Most of the businesses do not represent people in the neighborhood," said Wright.

Recently formed local and grassroots organization, L.E.S Dwellers, had asked the committee to grant a license to sell only beer and wine, coupled with a midnight close time seven days a week.

"We cannot have anymore late night establishments," said Diem Boyd, who spoke at the meeting on behalf of the group.

"Our community just can't take it anymore."